Bollards are a well-known means of protecting pedestrians and properties from vehicles, but how do you know you have picked the right bollard for the job?
What are Bollards?
Safety bollards are barricades placed around buildings or their respective parking areas. They help control the direction of traffic and restrict access as needed. Most notably, they prevent drivers or motorists from careening into the property or pedestrians. Bollards protect both the building and the driver from extreme damage.
What Can Safety Bollards Stop?
Bollards are used by private and government establishments to protect spaces, buildings, and people from both accidental and intentional vehicular crashes. They are often used by retailers and banks to prevent “ram-raiding” burglaries. The highest quality bollards can stop vehicles at the speeds of 80 kilometres per hour.
High-security bollards are also designed to protect against VAW (vehicle as weapon) and VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) attacks.
Are there official regulations on bollard strength?
In Australia, safety bollards should have sufficient foundation strength to resist being pushed by a large 4×4 vehicle. They should be approximately 1 metre tall and should be spaced at 1.6 metres apart. This would ensure optimum visibility while preventing vehicles from driving between them.
High-security bollards must pass the international crash test ratings for security barriers which is the IWA-14. In this test, the bollard is rated for its performance against a single impact of a test vehicle not driven by a human being.
This will be similar to its impact against an accidental collision but top quality bollards are expected to withstand a crash from a large 4×4 vehicle going at 80kph.
What Affects The Strength of a Bollard?
The force that a bollard can take is largely dependent on the physics of the part of the bollard embedded beneath the ground. If this part is made of strong material and installed properly, it should be able to function as intended.
Another factor is the material of the surface in which it is embedded. One must drill holes to embed most fixed bollards and any remaining space is filled and reinforced with concrete.
Galvanized steel is a popular option for heavy-duty bollards because of its strength and durability against wear and tear from weather or repeated collisions. Some safety bollards may have a 316 stainless steel backbone or filled with concrete for additional strength.
Fixed bollards are generally stronger than retractable ones. Although retractable bollards can restrict access, many of them are non-protective in design. Fixed bollards made of galvanized steel and embedded in concrete are best for protective purposes.
Flexible bollards are also a popular protective option. They absorb impact when struck by a vehicle. This reduces damage to the approaching vehicle and its surroundings, which may include property or pedestrians.
Flexible bollards can return to their original, upright shape after a collision. These bollards can be made of pure plastic or a hybrid of plastic and steel for increased durability.
Most establishments requiring security against ram-raiding burglaries opt for concrete-filled steel parking bollards reinforced with concrete. While your property may not need military-grade protection, it helps to be aware of the factors that affect a bollard’s strength so you can make the right choice.